Boxing: Home comforts come dear for Lewis: Champion prepared to lose pounds 1m to avoid making mandatory defence in Las Vegas

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The Independent Online
LENNOX LEWIS is prepared to forgo perhaps as much as pounds 1m in order to stage his mandatory defence of the World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Oliver McCall in London.

He considers that a price worth paying to avoid fighting in Las Vegas, where he was disturbed by the controversial ending of the fight between the Mexican legend, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Frankie Randall at the weekend.

For enjoying local support, Lewis will restrict his pay-out to pounds 2m from the fight. But that arrangement depends on his manager, Frank Maloney, and his backer, Panos Eliades, coming up with a satisfactory deal to present to McCall's promoter, Don King, to prevent the fight going to its purse-offer deadline of 16 May in Mexico City.

If it goes to bids, King would be favoured to win and take the fight to the United States.

The champion's men will need a 'live' gate of 22,000 pulling in pounds 1.5m to break even, in addition to cash put in by Sky TV and the American cable network, Home Box Office. Millwall's football ground or Arsenal's Highbury in late August or early September are possible sites for the contest.

Maloney is confident of sealing a deal. 'Lennox is the captain of the ship and it is up to us to do our utmost to see he gets what he wants,' he said. 'We'll be disappointed if we are not successful.'